On recent breastfeeding experiences
I realize that I have effectively gone silent in the last couple of weeks, but I have a great excuse. My little human is here! I’ve been busy navigating the challenges that come with having a newborn, both set by him and set by my own body. Things hurt, I bone-deep exhausted, and this tiny human eats a lot. The only consolation I take here is that he sleeps just as much.
Which is where my tale begins.
See, like many people, I decided I would breast feed. Not only is it always ready and at the right temperature, but it’s free. I like free, then again, who doesn’t? Well the little guy latched like a pro, no worries there. I’m figuring it’s going great. He’d feed, go back to sleep, wake up hours later to feed again, and repeat. Only, as the second day turned into the third, he started screaming. I’d basically given birth to a baby velociraptor. Honestly, I wondered if he was simply giving his own private metal show complete with using my nipples as a megaphone. On day four I became increasingly distressed. He’d sleep for much longer than I expected, feed for what felt like ever, many encore performances of baby dinosaur on the breast, and despite all this, wasn’t wetting any diapers.
So of course, I did what any rational, sane, hormonal, post-partum woman would do. I cried. Oh, and I messaged my cousin, because who would be best to help out than someone who popped out three boys. After that conversation, I decided to try a bit of formula. He took 40ml early in the morning, but still woke up dry.
Off to emerge we go. I wasn’t taking any chances.
Did I mention anything about crying? Many tears died painful deaths as they dragged across the skin of my cheeks or buried themselves in the wastelands of fabric that adorned Derek’s shoulder in the days that follow.
A little bit of blood work later and the paediatrician deems him to be dehydrated. We’re whisked away to paediatric care and kindly told to leave the room as they try to start an IV. I have to mention here that he weighed less than 7lbs, though they did all their measurements in kilos, so I can’t give an exact number. All I know is that he started out life at 7lbs, lost a bit of weight in the first couple of days, and lost more over the weekend.
They tried a few times as I listened to him scream from down the hall. That sucked. I couldn’t console him, but I also know I’d have been uselessly blubbering away instead of being helpful. We actually had to feed him before they’d try again, as those miniature dehydrated veins weren’t cooperating. They got it on the second go, after kicking us out again. We both lost our composure (I’ll pretend like I had some in the first place) when we returned to the room to see this tiny IV taped to his arm, the whole thing kept secure by a length of gauzy sponge. We were two days in the hospital, which admittedly might have been longer if he wasn’t so strong and determined to make up for lost time by eating everything we put in front of him, wetting through his diapers, and gaining an inordinate amount of weight back. His hospital stay was much worse on his parents than it was on him. We left when he turned one week old, and I’m happy to report that he’s done wonderfully since then.
During the entire ordeal, I couldn’t help but feel as if my body betrayed me somehow. These things that are supposed to produce milk for my child went on strike at the worst time. Turns out, though, that this is a common occurrence for new mothers, something I hadn’t read about. All the texts say that your milk comes in between days 3 and 5, simple as that. Well my body didn’t get that memo. Sure, I’m producing milk, but in such small quantities that he was basically starving. Great. Wonderful. Stupid breasts. The nurses, however, kindly explained that the textbooks are a crock and it can sometimes take up to 6 weeks to get a good flow going. I wish someone would have told me that before I got started. Now he refuses to latch for longer than a couple of seconds because he remembers there being nothing to latch for. I’m still dealing with his impatient self and I have more milk now than I did a few days ago. He’s simply given up and wants to take the lazy route. Well, if he thinks he’s stubborn, he’s about to learn where he got it from!
So on that note, I’m passing on the one piece of advice I wish someone gave me before I got started: have formula on hand and top up that child until you are 100% certain your milk is in to their satisfaction.
Honestly, if there’s any worry that your child will confuse the breast with a bottle nipple, there are bottles out there designed to imitate breastfeeding. I don’t wish any of what I went through on another person, it honestly sucks balls to watch your child in a situation that could have been prevented with a little good advice. The Doctor we saw stated that babies come in dehydrated on a regular basis. Why? I’ll tell you why: the reading materials mothers to be are given act like formula is the devil’s vodka and shouldn’t be fed to your worst enemy let alone your child. They promote breastfeeding to an almost religious level, and we all know how extreme some religious folks can get. It’s no wonder women feel inadequate or betrayed by their bodies when they can’t do something as simple sounding as feed their baby.
So I’m here to tell you to shove that sancti-mommy attitude up a hippos arse. The best way to feed a child is any way which keeps them fed and thriving, be it formula or breast milk. And if anyone tells you differently, don’t be afraid to snub your noses at their stinky attitude (it’s been up a hippo’s arse after all) and tell them the news: Fed is best.